x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ask the Expert: the best of St Lucia on a spa holiday

From water sports to cultural tours, the Caribbean island has a lot to offer.

I enjoyed reading your "Where to go when" feature last week, and I'm tempted to book myself into Hotel Chocolat in St Lucia for a few days in March. While the spa treatments the hotel offers sound sumptuous, I also want to explore the island. Can you suggest places of interest, and the best way to get around St Lucia?

St Lucia is a small island in the Caribbean and easy to get around. Perhaps the most inexpensive way of exploring is by bus - fares start at $1.5 (Dh5.5), with routes linking all parts of the island. Taxis don't have meters but have fixed fares for standard trips, and most taxi-drivers are well informed, doubling as efficient guides and offering comprehensive island tours (an average of US$120 [Dh440] for four passengers).

If you have a valid international driving permit and if you want to take in the sights at your own pace, renting a four-wheel drive vehicle is a good idea. Weekly rates range from $300 (Dh1,102) to $400 (Dh1,470), depending on the kind of vehicle you want (www.vcrentals.com; www.altorentacar.com).

For a glimpse of St Lucia's history and culture, choose from the several tours offered locally that range from heritage walks around the beautiful buildings of Castries, an old colonial city and the capital of St Lucia, to village trips where guests can participate in traditional practices such as fishing for crayfish and making cassava bread.

Interesting places to visit include Marigot Bay, a pretty harbour on the western coast; Maria Islands Nature Reserve, home to endemic wildlife such as the Kouwes snake and the St Lucia Racer; the tropical fruit gardens of Fond Doux Estate and the sulphur springs in Soufrière; and the twin "Piton" peaks near the town of Choiseul. The Central Market and Vendor's Arcade in Castries offer plenty of shopping options, from local produce to handicrafts. And with miles of pristine coastline and beaches, there are all kinds of water-based activities on offer by local tourism companies. To book tours and for more information, visit www.stlucia.org.


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